Just 21 seconds shy of the podium of the 2016 Tour de France, 23-year-old Adam Yates is clearly a rider for the future. The winner of the white jersey spoke about his race and the emotions of racing for GC shortly after finish of the 20th stage in Morzine.
“It’s all learning, it’s all experience,” he said after finishing the stage in 13th place. “I’m sure I’ll be back next year.”
The Orica-BikeExchange rider was 4’46” shy of Chris Froome in the general classification and just 21” behind the two-time winner of the white jersey, Nairo Quintana (who raced the Tour for the first time without being eligible for the youth classification).
Although the podium was only a matter of seconds away, he didn’t attack in the penultimate stage.
“It’s the end of three weeks and everyone is pretty tired,” said Yates in Morzine.
“If you attack it might not work and you risk everything.”
This is the second start in the Tour for Yates who finished 50th overall in 2015 and then, a week later, claimed victory in the one-day race Clasica San Sebastian.
“It’s only my second Tour de France,” he said, “and only my third Grand Tour in total.
“And I’m fourth in the Tour de France.
“For a lot of people it’s a dream to ride the Tour… so for me to come in the top 10, top five, whatever – I’m super happy.”
There was anticipation before the 20th stage as only 1’45” separated the riders ranked second through to sixth on GC but there was minimal aggression on the wet roads from Megève to Morzine. And Yates said the preference was for caution rather than attacking.
He also added that it was an issue of fatigue. “For me personally, I didn’t have super legs… so I just stuck in the group and maintained the white jersey and the fourth place on GC.
“I’m still only 23 so there are many years ahead.”
And, of course, the question for every white jersey winner: can you win the title in the future?
“It’s hard to say. Anything can happen… I’ll keep working hard and training hard and I’m sure I’ll be back in the future to try and go that one step further.”